Catholic Surrealism: Belgium and Anti-Gender Mobilizations

Thursday, April 14, 2016
Assembly F (DoubleTree by Hilton Philadelphia Center City)
David Paternotte , Sociology, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Wannes Dupont , History, Universiteit Antwerpen
Sarah Bracke , Vrije Universiteit Brussel
While Belgium is home to two leading architects of the anti-‘gender ideology’ campaigns, i.e. Michel Schooyans and Marguerite Peeters, their ideas have not (yet) been influential in their own country. Small groups are opposing the concept of gender and its ethical implications, but their message has failed to resonate with wider audiences so far. This paper discusses this intriguing Belgian paradox. It begins by mapping out the diverse field of anti-gender activists before moving on to discuss the reasons for the miscellaneous movement’s lack of success. Six important dimensions will be explored: the impact of secularization and dechristianization, the ambiguous legacy of Belgian society’s thorough pillarization, the existing divisions within the Belgian Catholic Church, the recent history of political reforms in the ethical domain, the paucity of political allies to support the cause of sexual and familial conservatism, and the affirmation of Belgian homonationalism at the time of the French Manif pour Tous.